Lighthouse and home on a clear day in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Eastern Virginia is making some noise as a retirement destination. These communities make it easy to downsize.

While Virginia didn’t show up anywhere on’s most popular communities for 2019, the state is still a great choice for homebuyers over 55. Last year, Virginia was rated as the seventh best state for retirement by Kiplinger.

Looking at cost of living, income for adults over 55, costs of medical care, and tax benefits makes Virginia a surprisingly good option. For many retirees and adults over 55 looking to buy a home, choosing to move to an active adult or age restricted community means low-maintenance living and the chance to downsize.

Eastern Virginia is home to many counties with high growth in residents over 60, and 17 active adult communities can take some credit for that. Downsizing can be a practical decision: with kids out of the house, homeowners simply don’t need or want as much space. Homebuyers may also want to downsize to a smaller, less expensive home to save money.

However, downsizing to an age-restricted community usually allows residents to experience amenities right in the community without having to worry about home or lawn maintenance. While Eastern Virginia has many communities with large homes, fewer have homes under 1,500 square feet.

Here are five communities in Eastern Virginia to consider when downsizing.

Monarch Walk - Chesapeake

When people think about downsizing, they often think of moving into a condo. However, many communities have duplex and attached homes that offer less space with a chance to enjoy an outdoor patio or yard, maintenance free.

Monarch Walk is a 55+ community in Chesapeake, Virginia with 62 attached models that range between 1,257 and 1,650 square feet. These quaint homes include high ceilings, fireplaces, one-car garages, and outdoor space.

The clubhouse features a fitness center and multi-purpose room, while residents can also enjoy nearby green spaces and golf courses. The community also offers easy access to Virginia Beach and Norfolk, both about half an hour away.

The Retreat at Greenbrier - Chesapeake

Low $300s - High $400s

The Retreat at Greenbrier is another 55+ community in Chesapeake, Virginia. Here, homebuyers looking to downsize can choose the two-bedroom, two-bath quadruplexes offered for resale. Although the master suite and second bedroom are located on the first floor, residents can use a bonus room on the second floor for a den or extra storage.

The 184 homes in the community center around the Lakeside Clubhouse, which features a gathering room with fireplace, meeting rooms, a fitness center, and catering kitchen. Residents can also enjoy the outdoor pool, lakeside gazebo, and stocked fishing pond.

Arbordale - Williamsburg

Mid $200s - Mid $300s

Arbordale in Williamsburg offers new single-family homes. Although this community of just 29 homes is not age restricted, many of the features will appeal to homebuyers over 55.

The single-level homes range from 1,150 to 1,694 square feet, with between two and three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The clubhouse includes a meeting room and fitness room, and an outdoor pool and patio. Residents are just a 10 minute drive to downtown historic Williamsburg, and minutes from outlets and big box stores.

Colonial Heritage - Williamsburg

High $200s - Low $600s

Colonial Heritage is a 55+ community in Williamsburg, about a 20 minute drive from downtown. This large community, which will include 1,800 homes when complete, is made up of single-family and attached homes in a variety of styles and sizes.

For active adults looking to downsize, the new single-family cottage homes provide two models under 1,500 square feet. These two-bedroom, two-bath homes feature an owner’s suite with attached bath, covered patio, and two-car garage.

This gated community also offers the resort-style amenities many large communities boast, including the 25,000 square-foot Heritage Clubhouse. It has craft rooms, meeting rooms, two restaurants, and the Athletic Club with fitness center and indoor pool. Outside, residents stay active in the outdoor pool, on one of the four tennis courts, or playing a round of golf on the 18-hole championship Colonial Heritage course.

Church Square - Smithfield

Low $200s - Low $300s

Also located in the Norfolk area, Church Square in Smithfield offers duplex homes just under 1,500 square feet. These models include first-floor master suites with walk-in closets, as well as open floor plans and covered or screened-in porches.

Residents can enjoy their lawns and outdoor space without having to deal with the maintenance. All landscaping and maintenance is managed by the community.

The Signature Club offers residents a place to get to know their neighbors, while the pool, park, and walking trails provide more opportunities to be outdoors.